MINNEAPOLIS - The Minnesota Wild gathered in their visitors’ locker room Sunday afternoon, blaring loud music and celebrating after a thrilling 1-0 overtime win over the Vegas Golden Knights to start the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
But there was also business to take care of. Coach Dean Evason went to his captain, Jared Spurgeon, with an important question: Would the Wild practice on Monday? With Game 2 not until 9 p.m. Tuesday night, that’s a lot of time to sit and rest in the team hotel. Players and staff are still under COVID-19 restrictions, and don’t want to risk a positive case. Not after the team had six games postponed due to an outbreak earlier this season.
The team had a conversation, and the consensus was to get on the ice Monday. Not long, but enough to break up the day.
"It’s a long day if you don’t do anything. Just get out there, get your legs going, feel the puck a little bit and get out of there. I think it’s more time, gets the day going a little bit faster," forward Mats Zuccarello said.
The Wild is up 1-0 in the best-of-seven series after getting 42 saves from Cam Talbot in his fifth career shutout, and the game-winning goal from Joel Eriksson Ek 3:20 into overtime. The Wild was out-shot 42-30 for the game, but stayed the course and didn’t panic despite not being able to take advantage of several great looks on Marc-Andre Fleury in regulation.
They stayed calm despite the Golden Knights coming out flying from the opening puck drop, dominating the first period and out-shooting the Wild 19-2. Thanks to Talbot, Vegas had nothing to show for it.
"Our group, led by our captain, stays calm and that’s what you have to do. There wasn’t a panic button pushed last night. Yeah they had the majority of possession, the majority of play and the majority of shots early, and we didn’t panic so that’s a credit to our group," Evason said.
The Wild had 71 hits and blocked 23 shots on Sunday. They’d prefer a faster start and not have to rely on Talbot standing on his head to keep them in the game. But they found their feet over the final two periods, got a key road win in the playoffs on the road.
Now, they have a chance for even more momentum if they can steal another from Vegas on Tuesday, and come home with a 2-0 series lead. Vegas will be a desperate bunch, trying to avoid that deficit.
"We have a chance to go up two in the series, we should be playing desperate and hungry too. I feel like it’s just going to be more of the same of what we saw in Game 1," forward Marcus Foligno said.